Social care workers at Southampton council today voted to call more strikes—breathing new life into their long-running campaign against pay cuts.
They voted overwhelmingly to call a strike in the first week of October. Other sections across the council will now meet to decide whether to join them.
A serious debate over strike tactics took place in the critical meeting.
“Our dispute is at a crossroads,” Unison branch secretary Mike Tucker told the meeting. “We reached a crescendo in August after three months of strikes. Now you need to decide the way forward.”
The council workers took action section by section for three months up to 10 August. In a mass meeting that day they voted to continue the campaign of strikes to beat the Tory council.
Unite regional organiser Ian Woodland told the social care workers that other sections would pile in behind them if they called a new walkout.
Some were nervous that new action would fall outside the 12 week period after their original ballot when they were legally protected from sackings.
But they refused to be cowed. One summed it up when she said, “If we don’t stand firm now, everything we’ve stood for will be lost.”
The council could not legally dismiss individuals for striking, only the whole workforce. This is considered unlikely.
And Mike Tucker pledged that if any workers were actually sacked, it would be met with rage across the millions-strong Unison and Unite unions. “We have support across the country,” he said.
There was a feeling in the room that it was a do-or-die moment—and the workers rose to the challenge. Applause broke out as the vote to strike was won.
“We have to stand up and be counted,” said one worker.
Another added, to more applause, “Our colleagues in refuse collection struck for us. Now it’s our turn.”
Send donations to Unison office, Civic Centre, Southampton, SO14 7NB (cheques payable to Unison Southampton District Branch), and Unite at TGWU 2/8 strike fund, Unity Trust Bank account no. 20185358, sort code 08-60-01